Physical Science Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

One chemistry careers website offers the following anecdote on chemistry careers:

"Chemistry seldom makes the top 10 list of glamorous careers. But for people with inquisitive minds who are creative, persistent, interested in solving problems, think independently, work well with details, have keen powers of observation, and follow logical paths of reasoning, chemistry offers challenging and quite fulfilling career opportunities." (Beyond Bunsen Burners – Chemistry Careers, By Kate Brooks)

Students who wish to succeed in chemistry should strive for a comprehensive undergraduate education.
It is important to develop a  knowledge base of mathematics and the sciences (not just chemistry).
Taking courses in speech, the arts, literature, and other humanities is also helpful.
Laboratory experience is the key to finding what a chemist really does in his/her natural environment.
In addition to required laboratory sections, it is a good idea to engage in research projects as independent projects or assisting a faculty member with her/his professional research.
There are many summer employment and internship opportunities which expose students to chemists working in a variety of settings so they can decide where their interests lie.

About half of all chemists work in research, with about two-thirds of the bachelor's-level chemistry graduates working in the for-profit sector.

Chemistry majors also work in educational settings and in government.
A small percentage are employed with nonprofit charities or research foundations.
The unemployment rate among chemists is generally lower than the national average.

Those holding a bachelor's degree may manage research projects or laboratories.
Teaching chemistry is also an option at a private school, or in a public school with certification.
Sometimes, individuals with bachelor's degrees in chemistry seek a master's degree in another field, such as an M.B.A. to augment their career opportunities.

Master's degree chemists are eligible for higher-level positions in management or pure applied chemistry.
Master's-level chemists are sometimes employed in entry-level teaching positions in colleges or universities.

Doctoral-level chemists can serve as primary researchers on grants, tenured professors at colleges, heads of divisions in corporations, and similar top-level positions.

Other excellent sources of information on chemistry careers are:

American Chemical Society: Careers in Chemistry—Career Descriptions

Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning: Careers in Chemistry